More Cyber Please

Delaware has a long tradition of signal readiness. With cyber and electronic warfare capabilities being a top priority for the Army’s new cyber directorate, this bodes well for our first state Soldiers.

To that end, BG (P) Patricia Frost who heads the new cyber directorate, spoke recently at the two-day symposium “Mad Scientist 2016: The 2050 Cyber Army” held at the U.S. Military Academy. Her charge is to oversee electronic warfare and cybersecurity and to optimize exploits in the two arenas. The Army has fielded 41 of the 133 defense-wide teams that Congress has mandated be established by 2018. Frost believes, however, there are offensive and defensive gaps that will need to be filled at a tactical level.

For more on the story, check out AUSA’s post “Giving Field Commanders More Cyber Muscle

Cyber Warriors
photo by: US Army

 

Army Gets $7 Billion Budget Boost

[From AUSA National]

The Army would get a $7 billion increase in its base budget for 2016 under the Obama administration plan unveiled Monday.

The increase primarily goes to operations, maintenance and weapons modernization programs.

The administration requests $147 billion for the Army in fiscal 2016, $2 billion less than the current budget in a reduction resulting from reduced funding for contingency operations.

For fiscal year 2015, the Army received $121 billion in the base budget and $28 billion in operating contingency funds. For fiscal 2016, the administration proposes boosting the base budget to $127 billion while cutting the contingency budget to $21 billion.

The 2016 budget was announced Feb. 2, at a time when the Army has 140,000 soldiers serving in 150 foreign countries, and with nine of the Army’s 10 active divisions having headquarters actively engaged in ongoing operations.

The modest boost for the Army is part of a decision by the administration to ask Congress for a 2016 defense budget that is $38 billion over spending caps set in the Budget Control Act, something that will require consent from lawmakers. While the Army would receive $7 billion more than current spending, the budget would provide a $16 billion increase for the Air Force and an almost $12 billion increase for the Navy, according to Defense Department briefing charts.

Forty-five percent of the Army’s base budget goes for personnel costs, with 36 percent for operations and maintenance and 18 percent for weapons programs. Spending on personnel is flat, even though the Army expects to be smaller in 2016, a result covering the cost of modest increases in pay and benefits. The budget includes a 1.3 percent basic pay hike, an average 1.2 percent increase in housing allowance and a 3.4 percent increase in subsistence allowance.

Active-duty personnel levels would drop from 490,000 today to 475,000 by Oct. 1, 2016, under the plan. Army National Guard strength, now 350,200, would drop to 342,000. Army Reserve strength would remain at 198,000.

There is $16.1 billion allocated to Army weapons procurement in the budget request, up from $13.9 billion in 2015. Increases are spread over aircraft, missiles, track vehicle and ammunition programs, but Army officials said a top priority is modernizing Apache, Black Hawk and Chinook helicopter fleets in support of the Aviation Restructuring Initiative, a controversial topic where an independent commission could end up deciding details and timing.

Ninety-four Black Hawks, 64 Apaches and 39 Chinooks would be purchased in 2016, an increase from the 87 Black Hawks, 35 Apaches and 32 Chinooks funded in 2015. Money also is included to buy 450 Joint Light Tactical Vehicles and upgrades for 87 Strykers.

For more headlines, click here.

Veterans Access, Choice and Accountability Act of 2014

[This came to our chapter leadership from AUSA National Headquarters]

An Open Letter to America’s Veterans

At the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), we have one of the most noble and inspiring missions in Government. I accepted this job and joined this mission to better serve you-our Veterans-and improve the delivery of the care and benefits you have earned. It is our privilege to serve you, and I have made clear that as we move forward as a Department, we will judge the success of all our efforts against a single metric-the outcomes we provide for Veterans.

The Veterans Access, Choice, and Accountability Act of 2014 (VACAA), enacted less than 3-months ago, goes a long way toward enabling VA to meet the demand for Veterans health care in the short-term. VA has put considerable focus and attention on ensuring the law is implemented seamlessly, without confusion, and without creating hardships for Veterans. This legislation provides authorities, funding, and other tools to better serve Veterans in the short-term. We are appreciative of this temporary measure to improve access while we build capacity within the VA system to better serve those who rely on us for health care.

From June 1 to September 30, 2014, VA completed more than 19 million Veteran appointments in our facilities and made nearly 1.1 million authorizations for Veterans to receive care in the private sector and other non-VA health facilities-a 46.6-percent increase over the same period in 2013. This was all done under existing programs prior to the passage of VACAA, and sets the stage for strengthening existing partnerships between VA and the private sector. We have much we can share with one another to the benefit of Veterans.

VA has signed contracts with two private health care companies to help VA administer the Veterans Choice Program (Choice Program) under VACAA. The Choice Program is a new, temporary benefit allowing some Veterans to receive health care in their communities rather than waiting for a VA appointment or traveling to a VA facility. It does not impact your existing VA health care or any other VA benefit you may be receiving. We will begin implementing this benefit on November 5, as required by law. A call center is now operational to answer your questions and verify your eligibility for this program.

As part of this new program, we are issuing a Veterans Choice Card to every Veteran who is potentially eligible for the new, temporary health benefit. The Choice Card allows Veterans to elect to receive care outside of VA when they qualify for the new program based on the distance of their residence from a VA care facility, or when wait times for VA health care exceed the standards established in law. The Choice Card does not replace the identification card you already use to access other VA benefits; please do not throw away that identification card.

The Choice Card will be issued in three phases. The first group of Choice Cards along with a letter explaining eligibility for this program is currently being sent to Veterans who may live more than 40 miles from a VA facility. The next group of Choice Cards and letters will be sent shortly thereafter to those Veterans who are currently waiting for an appointment longer than 30-days from their preferred date or the date determined to be medically necessary by their physician.

The final group of Choice Cards and letters will be sent between December 2014 and January 2015 to the remainder of all Veterans enrolled for VA health care who may be eligible for the Choice Program in the future.

We are continuing to work with our partners-Congress, Veterans Service Organizations, and others-to get the information about this health program out to Veterans in as many ways as possible. Please visit our Web site at www.va.gov/opa/choiceact<http://www.va.gov/opa/choiceact> where we have provided helpful information on Choice Program eligibility. We will work with our partners to keep you informed as we improve our delivery of high-quality, timely care.

Thank you for your service and sacrifice.

Sincerely,

Robert A. McDonald

New Family Program Updates

The Association of the U.S. Army Director of Family Programs recently distributed an update on their family activities.

Here are a few items that you might find helpful:

1.       Blue Star Families 2013 Lifestyle Survey on what military families say is most important to them: http://bluestarfam.s3.amazonaws.com/42/6b/b/1583/OnePager2013.pdf

2.      Upcoming locations of Hiring our Heroes Job Fairs: http://www.uschamber.com/hiringourheroes/events  Note: there are three pages that run all the way through March of 2014 so don’t forget to scroll through all of them

3.      Military Family Research Institute provided the newest information on what research is showing us about military children:  See http://blog.militaryfamily.org/2013/06/26/how-are-military-families-doing-what-researchers-are-discovering/

4.      AUSA is launching a Spouse membership initiative.   It is scheduled for a soft launch in late September/ early October! How will it work?

a.      Spouses will click on to a spouse membership link that will take them to a page explaining the new membership category

b.      Spouses will be asked if their spouse is currently an AUSA member

i.      If “yes”, spouse will type in their spouses email for verification and then will be taken to a page that allows them to join at the $14.oo rate (sans magazine)

ii.      If “no” spouses will be able to join at the rate equivalent to their husbands rank or DA civilian position

c.       FIRST 100 spouses to receive FREE Ann Hand AUSA membership pin (see photo)

5.   The AUSA Family Programs Directorate represented the association in the following meetings since the last Update (Links to the events have been included:

a.      OSD-Military Family Research Institute Launch of “How to Help Military & Veteran Families” materials: (FREE for download: https://www.mfri.purdue.edu/publications/how-to-help.aspx )

b.      “Celebration of Our Military Kids’ Star Power” http://www.ourmilitarykids.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Star-Power-Press-Release-2013.pdf

c.       Military Family Readiness Council (NMFA is a sitting council member- their report here: http://www.militaryfamily.org/feature-articles/military-family-readiness.html )

d.      Presented at AWAG in Germany: http://www.awagonline.org/Seminar-Speakers.html

e.      Blue Star Families Lifestyle Survey launch

f.       Exhibited at TAPS National Military Survivor Seminarhttp://www.taps.org/

g.      United through Reading Senior Spouse Roundtable: http://www.unitedthroughreading.org/

h.     Military Families Research Institute Symposium: https://www.mfri.purdue.edu/newsroom/view-news.aspx?newsitemid=95

i.      National Child Traumatic Stress Network Advisory Council Meeting (I represent not only AUSA but I am the military family rep) http://www.nctsn.org/